Sunday, June 04, 2006

Porch Pooped

My 2 day porch project will be entering it’s third week tomorrow. I would guess I‘m about 75% complete with the work that needs to be done before I can start painting. I was hoping to get more done today but I just ran out of steam. Attaching the bottom step and riser to the concrete step was a real chore. It didn’t help at all that they did a lousy job pouring this thing. It is not level or centered with the 1895 concrete walkway or the porch, and really, it’s just ugly all the way around.

I used these blue cement screws to attach the wooden step to the concrete step. You drill a 3/16-inch hole with a masonry bit and then you can screw these special blue cement screws in to the hole. I’ve used these before and I always seem to have about and 80% or 90% success rate with them. Sometimes they strip before they go all the way in. Sometimes I can’t seem to drill a hole deep enough, for what ever reason. I think the problem is with the aggregate in the concrete. I think these screws, and the masonry drill bits go through the cement part fine but when they hit an especially hard pebble it causes problems. Today was no exception.

To make matters worse, once I got the wooden step on I realized it was positioned wrong. It didn’t hang out far enough to hang over the bottom riser. If I thought those blue cement screws were hard to get in, that was nothing compared to getting them out. What a pain. After I got the step off I had to pull out the riser above it about an inch or so and then reattach the step. It now hangs over the bottom riser fine. Way more work than it should have been. I don’t really like doing work like this out in front of the neighbors, and I don’t always think things through all the way.

I used 2X12 Con-Heart redwood for the steps and 1X8 cedar for the risers. The “Con” in Con-Heart means construction grade. There is Clear-Heart Redwood and Con-Heart Redwood. Both grades are all heart wood (No sap wood. The bugs eat sap wood whether it’s redwood or not) but the Con-Heart has some knots in it, while the Clear-Heart has no knots. I bought a 12 foot piece because I needed 2, 6-foot steps. Only the bottom step has any knots in it so it’s not too bad. I’m going to have to prime them several times or the sap will bleed out of those knots. To be honest, the sap will probably seep out of the knots no matter how much primer I put on them. Oh well, no much I can do about it. It’s just 2 knots.

This is the first time I’ve ever worked with cedar before. It smells nice, that’s for sure, but boy is it a wimpy wood. I thought I was working with balsa wood. It is very light and very soft. Again, it has knots in it. I’m hoping this won’t be a problem when I paint it. I’m wondering if I should switch to an oil based primer. I’ll talk to the guys and Sherwin Williams and see what they say.

Here’s where I’m at. I was also able to get the lower newel posts I built yesterday attached and that's where I stopped. Tomorrow I want to get the handrail and balusters on and then I can go back to stripping in front of the neighbors. I'm getting tingly all over just thinking about it. I have the one pilaster on the back, left of the porch. After that I can move up to the soffit and rain gutter. I’m still not sure how bad that is.


SmilingJudy said...

Greg - Is is just the bottom step that's concrete or was it all three? I have some concrete steps to my back patio that I've wanted to 'veneer' with wood also. Sounds like not a very big deal to do (as long as I don't have to undo any). hee-hee. It's looking good.

SmilingJudy said...

Okay, I just re-read that first part. I must not have been paying attention the first time since you clearly indicated it was a pain. Oy! I'll probably still tackle it because I love punishing myself.

Gary said...

Shellac is supposed to seal knots in wood. But you know that already. Which reminds me, did that aniline dye I sent you solve your problem with whatever wood woes you were suffering at the time?

Greg said...

That's right, I never reported back about the dye. Yea, it worked great. Thanks.